A Chinese wind blows through Texas

It's tough to get financing from Wall Street for new clean energy projects these days. But China seems happy to help.

By Andrew Leonard
Published May 5, 2009 10:30AM (EDT)

Reuters reports that Tang Energy Group, a Dallas-based company, has signed a deal for $300 million in financing from a subsidiary of the state-owned industrial group China Aviation Industry Corp. (CAIC) to build wind farms in the U.S. Previously, Tang Energy Group specialized in clean energy projects in China, but now it's turning its focus to the United States.

"It's very helpful for us in this time of tight credit," said Patrick Jenevein, president of Tang. He said the financing was a "huge boost" that would help the company build some 200 to 250 megawatts of wind power capacity, enough to power about 75,000 homes with electricity.

Jenevein told Reuters that "the turbines financed by the agreement will be built of materials that are at least 40 percent U.S.-made. The towers and blades are likely to be U.S.-made while the cells of the turbine are likely to be made in China."

What the Reuters blurb doesn't tell us, however, is that in 2001, Tang Energy Group formed a joint venture with two other subsidiaries of China Aviation Industry Corp, Baoding Huiyang Aviation Propeller Factory, China Aviation Gas-Turbine Power (Group) Corp., to create HT Blade, reputed to be the largest domestic Chinese producer of wind turbine blades.

So, in effect, the state-owned CAIC is subsidizing an American company to build wind turbines whose materials will be partially sourced to CAIC subsidiaries.

What can we conclude from this other than China has learned how to play this capitalism-and-world-trade business very well? And if the U.S. gets a few more wind farms out of the deal, should we be complaining?

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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